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Animation: World’s Largest Megacities by 2100

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Animation: The World’s Largest Megacities by 2100

Throughout the course of human history, the biggest cities have always seemed impossibly large.

For many millennia, it was almost unfathomable for a city to sustain more than 1 million residents. In fact, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the largest cities globally, such as London and Beijing, were able to consistently hold populations beyond that impressive mark.

Despite this, in the modern era, we’ve quickly discovered that a city of 1 million people isn’t remarkable at all. In China alone, there are now over 100 cities with a million people today – and as such, our mental benchmark for what we consider to be a “big city” has changed considerably from past times.

Thinking Big

Just like a city the size of modern Tokyo was hard to imagine for someone living in the 19th century, it can be an extremely difficult thought experiment for us to visualize what future megacities will look like.

Researchers at the Global Cities Institute have crunched the numbers to provide us with one view of the potential megacities of the future, extrapolating a variety of factors to project a list of the 101 largest cities in the years 2010, 2025, 2050, 2075, and 2100.

Today’s video uses this data – it’s also an extension to the previous work we did based on the report here.

The Largest Megacities by 2100

According to the report, human geography will look completely unfamiliar by the turn of the century.

Here is a list of the 20 largest megacities projected for 2100:

RankPopulation (2100)CityCountry
#188.3 millionLagosNigeria
#283.5 millionKinshasaDRC
#373.7 millionDar Es SalaamTanzania
#467.2 millionMumbaiIndia
#557.3 millionDelhiIndia
#656.6 millionKhartoumSudan
#756.1 millionNiameyNiger
#854.3 millionDhakaBangladesh
#952.4 millionKolkataIndia
#1050.3 millionKabulAfghanistan
#1149.1 millionKarachiPakistan
#1246.7 millionNairobiKenya
#1341.4 millionLilongweMalawi
#1440.9 millionBlantyre CityMalawi
#1540.5 millionCairoEgypt
#1640.1 millionKampalaUganda
#1740.0 millionManilaPhilippines
#1837.7 millionLusakaZambia
#1936.4 millionMogadishuSomalia
#2035.8 millionAddis AbabaEthiopia

By the year 2100, it’s estimated that 13 of the world’s largest megacities will be located in Africa. Meanwhile, India will hold three of them – and there will be zero of them found in the Americas, China, or Europe.

Here’s a final look at the top three:

#1: Lagos, Nigeria
Nigeriaโ€™s largest city, Lagos, is expected to push the limits of how big a metropolis can get. Already, Lagos has seen explosive growth over the past few decades, and is growing so fast that no one really knows how many people live there. Over 2,000 people emigrate to the city every day, and current population estimates vary widely from 11 to 21 million inhabitants.

Either way, by the turn of the century, Lagos is projected to have a population north of 88 million.

#2: Kinshasa, DRC
Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo is projected to be the second largest city in the world with a population of 83 million.

#3: Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Dar Es Salaam, a city on the coast of Tanzania, has a population of just 4.4 million today. By 2100, its population is projected to jump by a whopping 1,588%, putting the total at 74 million inhabitants.

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Cities

Ranking the World’s Most Populous Cities, Over 500 Years of History

This two-minute animation shows changes in the last 500 years of historical rankings for the world’s 10 most populous cities.

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Animation: The Most Populous Cities, Over 500 Years

What do Beijing, Tokyo, Istanbul, London, and New York City all have in common?

Not only are they all world-class cities that still serve as global hubs of commerce, but these cities also share a relatively rare and important historical designation.

At specific points in history, each of these cities outranked all others on the planet in terms of population, granting them the exclusive title as the single most populated city globally.

Ranking the World’s Most Populous Cities

Today’s animation comes to us from John Burn-Murdoch with the Financial Times, and it visualizes cities ranked by population in a bar chart race over the course of a 500-year timeframe.

Beijing starts in the lead in the year 1500, with a population of 672,000:

RankCityPopulation in Year 1500
#1๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ Beijing672,000
#2๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ Vijayanagar500,000
#3๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฌ Cairo400,000
#4๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ Hangzhou250,000
#5๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท Tabriz250,000
#6๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ Gauda200,000
#7๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท Istanbul200,000
#8๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท Paris185,000
#9๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ Guangzhou150,000
#10๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ Nanjing147,000

In the 16th century, which is where the animation starts, cities in China and India were dominant in terms of population.

In China, the cities of Beijing, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Nanjing all made the top 10 list, while India itself held two of the most populous cities at the time, Vijayanagar and Gauda.

If the latter two names sound unfamiliar, that’s because they were key historical locations in the Vijayanagara and Bengal Empires respectively, but neither are the sites of modern-day cities.

The 1 Million Mark

For the first minute of animationโ€”and up until the late 18th centuryโ€”not a single city was able to eclipse the 1 million person mark.

However, thanks to the Industrial Revolution, the floodgates opened up. With more efficient agricultural practices, better sanitation, and other technological improvements, cities were able to support bigger populations.

Here’s a look at the biggest cities in the year 1895:

RankCityPopulation in Year 1895
#1๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง London5,974,000
#2๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ New York3,712,000
#3๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท Paris3,086,000
#4๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ Chicago1,420,000
#5๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Tokyo1,335,000
#6๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ St. Petersburg1,286,000
#7๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง Manchester1,244,000
#8๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง Birmingham1,074,000
#9๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ Beijing1,055,000
#10๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Moscow1,002,000

In the span of roughly a century, all of the world’s biggest cities were able to pass the 1 million mark, making it no longer a particularly exclusive milestone.

Modern City Populations

Finally, let’s look at the modern list of the top 10 most populous cities, and see how it compares to rankings from previous years:

RankCityPopulation in Year 2018
#1๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Tokyo38,194,000
#2๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ Delhi27,890,000
#3๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ Shanghai25,779,000
#4๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ Beijing22,674,000
#5๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ Mumbai22,120,000
#6๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Sao Paulo21,698,000
#7๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ Mexico City21,520,000
#8๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฌ Cairo19,850,000
#9๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฉ Dhaka19,633,000
#10๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ New York City18,713,000

Interestingly, the modern list appears to be a blend of both previous rankings from the years 1500 and 1895, listed above.

In 2018, cities from China and India feature prominently, but New York City and Tokyo are also included. Meanwhile, Latin America has entered the fold with entries from Mexico and Brazil.

The Future of Megacities

If you think the modern list of the most populous cities is impressive, check out how the world’s megacities are expected to develop as we move towards the end of the 21st century.

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The 8 Ways Urban Demographics are Changing

These pivotal trends show how urban demographics are aiding in the transition to a very different economic and investment landscape.

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The 8 Ways Urban Demographics are Changing

Cities are what keep the global economic machine humming.

Over 80% of the world’s economic output is derived from activities in cities – and more specifically, it’s estimated that 60% of GDP growth occurs in just the top 600 urban centers.

Given the above, it’s fair to say that the destiny of humankind is directly linked to what happens in major cities. Further, how urbanization plays out over time could end up having a significant ripple effect on the economy, and we should pay close attention to such trends.

Urbanization 2.0

Today’s infographic comes to us from Raconteur, and it showcases eight different ways that urban demographics are evolving.

Below we will summarize the changes, along with potential impacts on the economy:

1. A Higher Percentage of Urban Dwellers

Between 1950 and 2018, we went from 30% to 55% of the world’s population living in cities. This has been driven largely by today’s middle and high income economies in places like North America, South America, Europe, and Japan.

The next stage of urbanization will see us move to 68% – more than two-thirds of the world’s population – living in these urban conglomerations. It will be driven by countries in developing markets, creating a potent investing megatrend along the way.

2. The Countries Driving Growth

It’s estimated that three countries will combine for 35% of all urban population growth.

RankCountryGrowth in Urban Population (2018-2050)% of Global Urban Growth
World860 million people35%
#1India416 million people17%
#2China255 million people10%
#3Nigeria189 million people8%

In total, there will be 2.5 billion more urban dwellers in 2050 than there are today. Many of these people will experience rising incomes in cities, increasing the global middle class to an unprecedented size.

3. Peaking Rural Populations

On the flipside, it appears the world’s rural population has nearly flatlined, with anticipation that it will peak in absolute terms in the next couple of years. Rural populations have been slowly growing since 1950 until this point.

4. The Rise of Megacities

There will be 43 megacities by the year 2050, which is more than quadruple the amount that existed back in 1950.

The changing geography of the world’s megacities will be one of the major forces that shapes the future of the global economy and accompanying investment trends.

5. New Population Centers

By 2050, more than 70% of the world’s urban population will live in Asia or Africa. Meanwhile, North America and Europe will combine for closer to 15% of that total.

6. De-Urbanization

The role of de-urbanization is often downplayed or forgot about when discussing urban demographics, but it is an interesting issue.

Factors such as falling fertility rates, economic contraction, and natural disasters are actually shrinking the size of some cities. In fact, McKinsey predicts that 17% of cities in developed regions will see a drop in population between 2015-2025.

7. Disparities in Urban Growth

The rate for urban population growth is actually trending down across all types of economies – however, these rates come from very different starting points.

High income countries are currently averaging growth of less than 1% per year, and this will continue to decline to below 0.5% per year by 2050. Over the same time period, low income nations will go from 4% to 3% per year.

8. Changes in Average Age

The age distributions in large cities within developed nations will begin to skew older, something we’ve shown previously when looking at the median age of every continent.

The biggest impact here may be felt on dependency ratios in the workforce. With a smaller pipeline of new workforce entrants and a burgeoning population of seniors, this changing ratio is one of the most significant stories impacting urban demographics.

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